I fixed the train table. I did it. Me. All. By. Myself. The train tracks have been both a blessing and a curse in my house. I found a train table on the curb one day. It wasn’t in the greatest condition, but I figured with a little love, we could fix it up and make it like new again. Well, that hasn’t really been done yet, but it’s clean and functional.
We bought a basic set of trains and tracks at IKEA just to get us started. Then, we bought a few Thomas pieces and were glad to inherit many more trains and buildings from a friend whose sons had outgrown them.
Suddenly, the basic figure eight track layout seemed so dull. In an effort to spruce it up a bit, we started changing the design. But then it got complicated. Once we started adding stations, water towers, and the like, things started not fitting well. Before I knew it, we were back at the toy store getting connector pieces and more tracks.
It was difficult for my son to play with these broken up tracks. Finally, my husband began designing a new layout. However, now we were missing stanchions (you know, those things that hold up the raised track). As a result, every time my son went to drive his train, the tracks would fall apart. It became very frustrating for all parties involved!
My husband finally made some wood blocks to serve as stanchions, but due to many late nights at work he didn’t have a chance to work on fixing the tracks. For weeks, the tracks remained relatively unplayable. I tried to come to the rescue. I attempted to fix the awesome layout my husband had started but, well, one thing led to another and before I knew it, the whole track was changed and unsalvageable. To make matters worse, I didn’t take a photo before reconstruction began. I have yet to live this down.
My in-laws came to visit and stay for a weekend. Grandpa was tasked with trying to undo the damage I had done. He ended up starting from scratch and made a perfectly fine track. Then, he tried to make it fancier… and fancier… and ended up having to go back to basics with his original design as he encountered the same problems we all had. This layout got us through. Trains were able to move around and we were able to play, so a special thanks to Grandpa for his time and effort. Somehow, though, it didn’t last. My son wanted to spruce it up a bit on his own and ended up making lots of tracks to nowhere. Sigh.
About a year ago, friends of ours donated a brand new Thomas train table to our local library. It was great. Although it is still there, trains are missing, pieces are broken, and the tracks are falling apart despite them being glued to the table. Even still, the train table is a major highlight with all of the neighborhood kids when hanging out in the children’s section. My kids and I went to play with it as we do after every weekly story hour and I suddenly had a brilliant idea. “Take a photo. This layout works. Sure, we don’t have all of the same pieces, but maybe we can sort of replicate it. Heck, it’s worth a try.”
We went home and gave it a go. Of course, each time a new track was placed on the table, there was immediately a train on top of it. This slowed things down a bit. And little baby fingers that came out of nowhere kept grabbing pieces and pulling them back down to the ground to be slobbered on – also not helpful. Still, I persevered. I used the photo from the library as my guide and watched in amazement as it started so come together, piece by piece.
There are uphills. There are downhills. Tracks split then come back together. Stanchions keep the raised track from falling. There is a suspension bridge, a station, a water tower, a coal chute, a crane, and even a pirate ship. I swear I heard an angelic chorus singing , “Aaaaaah,” as I placed the last piece on the track, realizing that it all fit. No more tracks to nowhere.
Trains zoomed around the track. A little boy giggled with excitement. A baby girl clapped hooray. A mama was proud.
When Papa returned from work, my son grabbed him by the hand and pulled him upstairs to see the new train setup. On their way, I asked my husband if afterwards he would take my son outside to run around a bit before bed. “Wow!” I heard from below. “Screw taking him outside! I’m playing with trains!”
Mama done good.